Tuesday, October 30, 2012

HMS Bounty lost off Cape Hattaras

HMS Bounty with sails raised. But we know, don't we; all that sail, calm water, even keel, 
what's wrong with this picture? (Photo from HMS Bounty facebook page)
UPDATE June 14, 2014: In its findings, the Coast Guard Board of Inquiry blamed the captain and the ship's onshore management for the disaster.  Here's the report from CNN.

UPDATE FEB. 20, 2013:  Here's some new insight into the sinking written during the official Coast Guard inquiry.

HMS Bounty went down Monday off Cape Hattaras, a place with history dating back to pirate times where ships have had their difficulties.  That reads like a headline that might have been published more than 200 years ago, but, of course it was not the original ship. It was a replica launched in 1962 for the movie that starred Trevor Howard as William Bligh and Marlon Brando as Fletcher Christian in the 1960s.  This version also had been in a "Pirates of the Caribbean" movie along with participating in several tall ships gatherings.

The ship was sailing south attempting to avoid Hurricane Sandy and reach its home port in St. Petersburg, Florida.  On the group's facebook page there are chart positions showing the ship attempted to sail east of the storm and thus avoid the worst of it.  On the page the captain defends the decision. There are a few pictures of the seas the ship encountered.  Keep in mind a ship like this is built to withstand storms at sea and there was every reason to believe it could have handled conditions as they were predicted.  Generally among mariners a ship is considered safer on the open ocean than in a harbor during a severe storm.

There was some conjecture around the sinking but nothing solid so it is best to wait for a cause to come from an official inquiry.  One report did say the ship's engines failed so that could have been a contributing factor.  That is best left for the investigators.  No matter what is learned the ship is gone.

HMS Bounty founders off Cape Hattaras
(U.S. Coast Guard photo)

Whenever a ship goes down at sea it raises emotions among other sailors, some of relief that we weren't there and others of sadness at the loss of kindred spirits and in this case the loss of a grand ship as well.  The sight of a tall ship under full sail is one that will remain in your memory forever. Those ships are what the romance of the sea is all about, the stuff of fiction but also the stuff of the age of exploration, the stuff of great naval battles, the stuff of pirates and the stuff of the opening of the great trade routes on all the world's oceans.  When one goes down we all lose a bit of our heritage.  I know some of  my ancestors crossed the ocean in one and I expect most people can look back at their history and find a voyage under sail somewhere, some more romantic than others, to be sure.  What I mean there is  the most famous American settlers came over on the Mayflower, but then so did the Africans who were transferred as chattel to be slaves in the New World. But the latter can't be blamed on the ships themselves. The point is that Monday a piece of the great maritime heritage, even if it was a replica, went down off Cape Hattaras and that's a loss for us all.

All of it is not sad.  There is a grand story to go with the sinking. The Coast Guard rescued 14 crew members in seas of around 18 feet. Bligh didn't have that option when he sailed the ship's ancestral namesake.  The pilots who fly those helicopters and the rescue divers who fly with them are an amazing group of people.  An awful lot of Alaska mariners owe their lives to these guys.  The same type of crew is who the "Deadliest Catch" guys call from the Bering Sea. The movie "The Guardian" gives them a good treatment.  Here is a link to the Coast Guard web site posting about the operation.  Not many words there to describe what actually happened, considering divers went into the water, in those waves, and one by one loaded crew members into a basket so they could be lifted to the helo hovering overhead.

As is often the case in a sinking, two crew members were lost.  The body of one was recovered, but at last report the captain was still missing. Claudene Christian, who grew up in Anchorage and graduated from West High School, was the one who died and whose body was recovered.  This is where the story takes a dramatic turn.  Does her name sound familiar?

It should.  You see, one person posting on the facebook page wrote that Claudene Christian was a direct descendant of Fletcher Christian known for instigating the mutiny on the original Bounty.

1 comment:

  1. Great story. Even better ending.


Interesting quotations

· " “Always do sober what you said you'd do drunk. That will teach you to keep your mouth shut.” — Ernest Hemingway

When I write, I feel like an armless, legless man with a crayon in his mouth. Kurt Vonnegut

“If you wrote something for which someone sent you a cheque, if you cashed the cheque and it didn't bounce, and if you then paid the light bill with the money, I consider you talented.” Stephen King

The thing about ignornance is, you don't have to remain ignorant. — me again"

Never debate with someone who gets ink by the barrel" — George Hayes, former Alaska Attorney General who died recently

My dear Mr. Frost: two roads never diverge in a yellow wood. Three roads meet there. — @Shakespeareon Twitter

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Me: Does the restaurant have cute waitresses?

My friend Gail: All waitresses are cute when you're hungry.

I'm not a writer, but sometimes I push around words to see what happens. – Scott Berry

“The rivers of Alaska are strewn with the bones of men who made but one mistake” - Fred McGarry, a Nushagak Trapper

Many people hear voices when no one is there. Some of them are called mad and are shut up in rooms where they stared at walls all day. Others are called writers and they do pretty much the same thing. – Meg Chittenden

A non-writing writer is a monster courting insanity. – Franz Kafka

We are all immortal until the one day we are not. – me again

If the muse is late, start without her – Peter S. Beagle

Substitute ‘damn’ every time you’re inclined to write ‘very;’ your editor will delete it and the writing will be just as it should be. ~Mark Twain Actually you could do the same thing with the word "really" as in "really cold."

If you are looking for an experience that will temper your vanity, this is it. There's no one to impress when you're alone on the trap line. – Michael Carey quoting his father's journal

Either write something worth reading or do something worth writing. – Benjamin Franklin

It’s nervous work. The state you need to write in is the state that others are paying large sums of money to get rid of. – Shirley Hazzard

So far as I can remember, there is not one word in the Gospels in praise of intelligence -- Bertrand Russell

You know that I always just wanted to have a small ship to take stuff from a place that had a lot of that stuff to a place that did not have a lot of that stuff and so prosper.—Jackie Faber, “The Wake of the Lorelei Lee”

If you attack the arguer instead of the argument, you lose both

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I used to think getting old was about vanity—but actually it’s about losing people you love. Getting wrinkles is trivial. – Eugene O’Neill

German General to Swiss General: “You have only 500,000 men in your army; what would you do if I invaded with 1 million men?”

Swiss General: “Well, I suppose every one of my soldiers would need to fire twice.”

Writing is the only thing that when I do it, I don’t feel I should be doing something else.—Gloria Steinem

Exceed your bandwidth—sign on the wall of the maintenance shop at the West Coast/Alaska Tsunami Warning Center

One thing I do know, if you keep at it, you usually wind up getting something done.—Patricia Monaghan

Do you want to know what kind of person makes the best reporter? I’ll tell you. A borderline sociopath. Someone smart, inquisitive, stubborn, disorganized, chaotic, and in a perpetual state of simmering rage at the failings of the world.—Brett Arends

It is a very simple mind that only knows how to spell a word one way.—Andrew Jackson

3:30 is too late or too early to do anything—Rene Descartes

Everything is okay when it’s 50-below as long as everything is okay. – an Alaskan in Tom Walker’s “The Seventymile Kid”

You can have your own opinion but you can’t have your own science.—commenter arguing on a story about polar bears and global warming

He looks at three ex wives as a good start—TV police drama

Talkeetna: A friendly little drinking town with a climbing problem.—a handmade bumper sticker

“You’re either into the wall or into the show”—Marco Andretti on giving it all to qualify last at the 2011 Indy 500

Makeup is not for the faint of heart—the makeup guerrilla

“I’m going to relax in a very adult manner.”—Danica Patrick after sweating it out and qualifying half an hour before Andretti

“Asking Congress to come back is like asking a mugger to come back because he forgot your wallet.”—a roundtable participant on Fox of all places

As Republicans go further back in the conception process to define when life actually begins, I am beginning to think the eventual definition will be life begins in the beer I was drinking when I met her.—me again

Hunting is a “critical element for the long-term conservation of wood bison.”—a state department of Fish and Game official explaining why the state would not go along with a federal plan to reintroduce wood bison in Alaska because the agreement did not specifically allow hunting

Each day do something that won’t compute – anon

I can’t belive I still have to protest this shit – a sign carriend by an elderly woman at an Occupy demonstration

Life should be a little nuts or else it’s just a bunch of Thursdays strung together—Kevin Costner as Beau Burroughs in “Rumor has it”

You’re just a wanker whipping up fear —Irish President Michael D. Higgins to a tea party radio announcer

Being president doesn’t change who you are; it reveals who you are—Michelle Obama

Things sports announcers say

"… there's a fearlessment about him …"

"He's got to have the lead if he's going to win this race."

"Kansas has always had the ability to score with the basketball."

"NFL to put computer chips in balls." Oh, that's gotta hurt.

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This is why you get to hate sportscasters. Kansas beats Texas for the first time since 1938. So the pundits open their segment with the question "let's talk about what went wrong." Wrong? Kansas WON a football game! That's what went RIGHT!

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Cliches so imbedded in sportscasters' minds they can't help themselves: "Minnesota fell from the ranks of the undefeated today." What ranks? They were the only undefeated team left.

A good one: A 5'10" player went up and caught a pass off a defensive back over six feet tall. The quote? "He's got some hops."

Best homonym of the day so far: "It's all tied. Alabama 34, Kentucky 3." Oh, Tide.

"Steve Hooker commentates on his Olympic pole vault gold medal." When "comments" just won't do.

"He's certainly capable of the top ten, maybe even higher than that."

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"Biyombo, one of seven kids from the Republic of Congo." In the NBA? In America? In his whole country?

"You can't come out and be aggressive but you can't come out and be unaggressive."

"They're gonna be in every game they play!"

"First you have to get two strikes on the hitter before you get the strikeout."

"The game ended in the final seconds." You have to wonder when the others ended or are they still going on?

How is a team down by one touchdown before the half "totally demoralized?"

"If they score runs they will win."

"I think the matchup is what it is"

After a play a Houston defender was on his knees, his head on the ground and his hand underneath him appeared to clutch a very sensitive part of the male anatomy. He rolled onto his back and quickly removed his hand. (Remember the old Cosby routine "you cannot touch certain parts of your body?") Finally they helped the guy to the sideline and then the replay was shown. In it the guy clearly took a hard knee between his thighs. As this was being shown, one of the announcers says, "It looks like he hurt his shoulder." The other agrees and then they both talk about how serious a shoulder injury can be. Were we watching the same game?

"Somebody is going to be the quarterback or we're going to see a new quarterback."

"If you're gonna play running back in the SEC you're gonna take hits."

"That was a playmaker making a play."

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